Students teach adults on electoral reform

By Andrea Arnold

Noah Keim presents the pros and cons of the MMP option in the voting reform referendum. / ANDREA ARNOLD

The recent referendum left a lot of people unclear about what each choice on the ballot meant in the big picture.

The Citizen’s book club in McBride was no exception. Member Nancy Taylor tried to organize an outside, expert presenter to come explain the various options included in the voting reform, but was unable to find anyone to come present to the community.

She approached McBride Secondary School teacher Eric Martin to discuss the possibility of doing a project with some of the students. The assignment was to present on the options in a neutral and informed manner. Teacher Eric Martin explained that it was an assignment that “is partially about learning how to visualize complex concepts and to take risks in initiating critical, focused dialog.” He also saw students benefiting as they learned more about the voting process.

Students were divided into groups and each group focused on one of the proposed voting methods; Single Transferable Vote (STV), Dual Member Proportional (DMP), Mixed-Member Proportional (MMP) and Efficiency Gap (EG). The students used the referendum website to gather preliminary information about each option and then conducted follow-up research through other sites to help them understand further. Fellow students, some staff and a few community members, Taylor included, cycled through the different stations listening to the student’s explanations. “The practice run I attended last week was fantastic. The students had a good grasp of the material. I was impressed with how their use of technology made complex ideas more understandable,” Taylor said.

The individuals of voting age attending were all impressed and arrangements have been made for a similar presentation at the Library on Thursday November 8 at 6:30pm. Each group’s presentation has a running time of about 5 min. Following the presentations, there will be an opportunity for discussion and questions. Taylor feels the students have a good understanding and as a result of this evening, people will be better informed, resulting in more effective local and regional representation.

This event was held at the McBride and District Library in McBride on Thursday, November 8 at 6:30pm.

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